Emotional Limits
by Robin Lyons, OPEX Coach

I called an old friend / teammate of mine Derek Woodske to have a discussion around strength training (what else would we talk about ?) Anyway, the discussion ended with a psychological exploration about coaching, training, athletics and our experiences.  Is was an enlightening chat that I wanted to share with all of you in hopes to maybe resonate with some of you on your own training and coaching journeys…

Reflecting back to my competitive track and field days for the Canadian National Team and University of Wyoming I was very emotionally driven.  Competing in Track (specifically the Throws) was a way to express my self worth, purpose and define who Robin Lyons was.

My training and competitions were driven under the same emotion.  I would train hard everyday looking for a personal record in the weight room or on the throwing field.  It was always about getting better, and if your weren’t getting better everyday you would definitely hear about it from the coach. We were young athletes with something all in common; we wanted to be somebody and we had nothing to lose.   Everyday was a proving ground and when we couldn’t deliver we rode that emotion deep into our self worth… it was destructive energy, that could only go away by lifting more weight, or throwing farther…thats it.

Obviously bad days came and I typically fought back with anger against myself….I would wake up at 6am and head down to the university wt room to do the wrestlers workout before throwing practice (obviously no clue about physiology at this point).  But I was looking for a fix to my feeling of emptiness…

This is an exhausting way to train, live and compete as an athlete.  Unfortunately the guidance we had supported the same destructive mentality.   The road to success for us was driven by fear of failure and fear of not being someone, because our identity was so wrapped up in our accomplishments.

My personal growth from that point has been a work in progress. As a coach, I’ve battled similar emotions that were welded into my soul from the past. Taking a step back from competition has given me the space to reflect on my experiences and what coaching and training mean to me now. As I work with athletes daily near and far, I am becoming more and more aware of their psychological journey as well as mine. As a coach it’s easy to get wrapped up in performances of your athletes and their emotions. Especially when its competition time….nobody wants to lose or do less than they are capable of…. so how do we minimize this fear?  It starts with letting go…

Training and Coaching is not emotional, and the more I coach the more I realize how emotions get in the way of the plan.  Putting a program together is logical not emotional.  The best athletes and coaches don’t respond to  good days and bad days…missed reps or good reps! Remember this:  You are only the product of your averages.  You are not as good as your best day or as bad as your worst day, you are the product of what you do each and every day over the time line you set.   Drawing awareness to your emotional triggers i believe is key in understanding that those emotions can be felt, but must be let go to further your development, potential and get you to your goal.

Training is numbers and a plan day in and day out.  The more simple you can make it and the less attached you can be with your plan I would argue  that your experiences and your outcomes will be more rewarding.


[tabby title=”Function”]

Function 10/28/14

A1. Box jump, step down – 5×5 – no rest
A2. Pullups negatives – x3-5 second lower on each repetition – 5×5-8 – rest 2 minutes
500m row – at pace (+/- 2 seconds)
Rest 2:30 x4

Rest 5 minutes, repeat

-Goal on A1 – choose a box which enables you to land in a quarter-squat position, so not one too hgh
-Goal on A2 – use bands if necessary to allow you to lower in a controlled x3-5 second count
-Pace on rower is determined as your average 500m pace during the 2k row (ex. 7:00 2000m/4 = 1:45/500m)

[tabby title=”Being”]

Being 10/28/14

For time:
Deadlift (225/155#)

-Post times and reps schemes

[tabby title=”Will”]

Will 10/28/14


Row 5k @Aer pace
– every 1k get 2 sec fasted, start EASY pace

A. Push Press + Push Jerk; 2.1 x 5; rest 2 min (build)
B. Emom 8 min – Jerk x 3 (70% of 1RM)
C. Wtd. chin up; 2-3 x 5; rest 2 min (all sets tough)
For time:
5 RC
9 MU
15 OHS (185#)
3 RC
7 MU
15 manmakers (35#)
1 RC
5 MU

[tabby title=”She”]

She 10/28/14

A. Jerk – build to a moderately tough single from blocks
B. Emom – Push press x 1 (from blocks) – build to a max from 70% – Max 12 sets
C. PC; 8,8,8; rest 3 min (8 singles, not Tng, build from 72.5%)
for time:
9 HPC (125#)


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  1. Being

    2:54 UB but paused at top on deadlifts and HSPU @ round of 15 -last 3-4 reps
    Round of 21 felt really good, round of 15 the hardest one but went ok, and round of 9 was tough but mostly transport. I think it was the first time i did it wit hook grip all through. Tried mixed grip in warm up but it was such a long time since i used it so it felt strange. I´m happy with my form in deadlifts and timing in HSPU.

    1. Dude, that is lightning fast. Doing this one later today. The DL’s are a piece of cake but tough for me to get thru all of those HSPU’s.
      That time is impressive.


  2. a1. 30″, 30″ +25lb bumper, 30″+25lb bumper,30″+25lb bumper,30″+25lb bumper
    a2. 5reps+5 second negative x 5
    row 1:44 pace
    1:44.7, 1:43.9, 1:42.5, 1:43.6
    rested 5 min
    1:43.1, 1:43.2, 1:42.7, 1:43.2
    very hard to pace for me took my eyes of monitor to try and feel it out.

  3. F/28/5’6″/65kg


    A1 & 2 – felt ok, managed 5 pull ups with a 5 sec descent each set

    Row – pace 2:03
    1st sets: 2:03:8, 2:01:1, 2:01:0, 2:00:04

    2nd sets: 2:02:0, 2:01:2, 2:00:9, 2:01:0

    I went faster than the pace in some of the sets so I think I need to work on my pacing!

  4. F/27/5’5″/135#

    From 10/24 “Being”
    A. BS with variable resistance – 10 sets of 3 @ 20X1; rest 45 sec – bands or chains 65kg, no bands/chains
    B. OHS @ 42X1; build to a moderate triple in 5 sets – 35kg/45kg/50kg/55kg/60kg
    C. EMOM – 8 min – 8 CTB chin ups – first 4 sets unbroken
    D. EMOM – 12 min -40#Dumbbell
    odd – 6 tough KB snatch R
    even – 6 tough KB snatch L

  5. Being
    This is definitely a weak workout for me, so with that being said… 155# DL and HSPU to 1 abmat = 14:55. Last time I did this it was 16:33, so progress is progress! HSPU were broken into sets of 2-5 and all DL were unbroken. Left wrist has been sketchy, but didn’t bother a ton. Looking forward to the day when I’ll be in the single-digit minute! Ha!

  6. Being:
    Wasn’t feelin’ it today. The 100 thrusters really took their toll and I shoudl have just rested today. I know better.
    Anyway, got thru the first round in 6:36 and decided to pull the plug because felt a tweak in the neck. HSPU’s are not my strong suit but was able to kip most of them.

    Next time, I’ll shoot for two rounds.

  7. Being


    HSPU’s were at a little bit of deficit; Used an ab mat to protect neck and head, hands on 45# bumper plates.
    All DL’s broken up into 2 sets, HSPU’s 3 and 4 sets.
    The most challenging part was definitely HSPU

  8. Alex/ male/ 24/ 5’10/ 80kg

    Rx’d 6.38
    Deadlifts unbroken,
    HSPU- 3×7’s, 8-4-3, 5-4.

    Jak/ male/ 22/ 5’8/ 78kg

    Rx’d 5.15
    Deadlifts 11-10, 8-7, 9
    HSPU 11-10, 15, 5-4 fell off wall not rest.

  9. Male 90/6″2/26

    Not my jam

    6.45 improved massively from last time
    All DL’s unbroken
    HS 10/6/4 – 6/5/4 – 4/3/2

  10. M/37/5’10″/195

    DL’s 15/6, 10/5, 6/3
    HSPU 11/10, 9/6, 3/3/3

    Fatigue set on the last set of HSPU but was able to keep from hitting failure.

  11. Function
    A1. Box jumps 5×5 @ 16″
    A2. Pull-ups, negative, 5 sets x8 reps with 5 second lowering with 40# assist
    Row: 500m 2:00

  12. M/29/140/5’6″


    Row 5k @Aer pace
    – every 1k get 2 sec fasted, start EASY pace
    Did not do

    A. Push Press + Push Jerk; 2.1 x 5; rest 2 min (build)
    B. Emom 8 min – Jerk x 3 (70% of 1RM)
    C. Wtd. chin up; 2-3 x 5; rest 2 min (all sets tough)
    (20-30-40-50-60) all with 3 reps
    For time:
    5 RC
    9 MU
    15 OHS (185#)
    3 RC
    7 MU
    15 manmakers (35#)
    1 RC
    5 MU
    18:36min 145 ohs 25 Mm

  13. F/5’4″/140/32

    Posting a week behind
    A. BS @20X1; 5,3,1,1,1; rest 2-3 min (only last single tough) 175-195-215-235-250(F)
    B. Emom 6 min – CGBP x 1 (build from 60-75%) 105-115-125-135-145(f)-145(f)
    for time:
    FS (70% of RM)
    box jump step down (24″)
    2:10 150#FS

  14. Male. 28. 190


    AM: 2:10 – 2:00 (20:58 total)

    A. 135, 155, 175, 185, 205. No Misses.

    B. 185 – jerk is one of my weakest movements. This wasn’t EASY for me. Still working hard on technique.

    C. 44×3, 53×3, 60×3, 70×3, 80×2.

    MetCon: 16:58
    Smooth with exception of OHS. Still a weakness, especially @ 185. Legs are NOT 100% still, from Saturday + Monday.
    Broke up MUs 3,3,3. 4,3. and 3,2. All fairly easy. Very smooth.
    RC very smooth.
    Man Makers were a grind. Not a weight issue, just gassed.
    OHS was 4,4,3,1,3.

  15. “will”


    A. 185-205-210-215-220

    B. Done at 200

    C. 35×3,40×3,45×3,60×3,70×3

    D. 18:38

    MU- Slower singls. Felt just slow and disjunct.
    OHS- 3,3,3,5,1

  16. WILL

    AM – Done, 2:13, 2:11, 2:09, 2:07, 2:05
    Felt smooth, good flush

    –A) 185, 205, 220, 230, 240 – TnG until 240
    –B) 225
    –C) 105 all sets of 3
    –D) 12:57 – felt like an ok pace, maybe could have gone a little faster
    Rope Climbs @ 17′ were smooth
    MU – 9/UB – 4/3 – UB
    OHS – 7/5/3
    Man Makers – found a decent rhythm

  17. She
    A. Jerk single – 155. Shoulders felt awful today. Bar felt heavy and I felt slow. Frustrated with this today.
    B. 135. Again, shoulders felt bad.
    C. 125, 140, 150
    For time:
    14:47. Spent about 85-90% of this on HSPU. Did kipping with 1 inch pad under head. Took forever.

  18. Will 10/28/14


    Row 5k @Aer pace
    – every 1k get 2 sec fasted, start EASY pace:


    A. Push Press + Push Jerk; 2.1 x 5; rest 2 min (build):
    45kg, 47, 50, 52, 54

    B. Emom 8 min – Jerk x 3 (70% of 1RM):

    C. Wtd. chin up; 2-3 x 5; rest 2 min (all sets tough):
    5# (3), 7.5 (3), 10 (3), 15 (2), 15 (2)
    For time:
    5 RC
    9 MU (banded)
    15 OHS (185#) @48kg
    3 RC
    7 MU
    15 manmakers (35#) @25#
    1 RC
    5 MU

  19. Will
    A. 185, 205, 225, 235, 245
    B. 230
    C. Did not do due to time.
    Wod. 23:19 not good, did not warm up enough for OHS.

  20. BEING

    9:00 to one abmat on hspu

    I had actually not done this in about 4-5 years and the handstands were with my knees on a box!

    Purposely gamed it very slow because higher volume hspu is still new territory for me.

    Broke DL into 13/9, 8/7, 9
    HSPU 8/6/4/3, 5/5/5, 9

    Excited to retest this one!

    PS I had I think the worst ever build up of lactic in my shoulders when I was done… wow.

  21. Being

    Followed SHE blog for a few months and all lower body lifts went down, thinking the program was too hard for me ? Hadn’t done DL in over 3 months so back felt trashed doing these DL today – 2nd week on being

    DL 11/10 8/7 3/3/3
    HSPU – don’t remember

  22. M/33/5’9″/168#
    AM – 21:54.7; 2:05-2:15
    PM – A. 135/145/155/165/185(f)
    B. 185; based on split jerk Max 220
    C. Skipped due to elbow/tricep/shoulder pressure
    14:53; @135#OHS, 25#dbs for MMk’ers

  23. F/25y/5’6″/168#
    A. Bar MU(2) (Should I scale this differently?)
    B. 125, 155, 165
    C. 3,3,3,3,2 @ BW
    amrap 2+38

    B. worked from 95#-145#
    12:45 – first 10 HSPU RX, then scaled to abmat under head

  24. WILL

    AM – Complete.

    PM –

    A. 170, 180, 190, 195, 200
    B. 180#
    C. 1.5 pd (first two sets), 2 pd (last three v sets)
    For Time –
    Time : 21:41 What really got me was the OHS that was really hard

  25. M/33y/6’0″/175lbs

    A1/A2 as Rx, lowered for a count of 5 doing 8 reps

    Target Time :: 1:50.8
    Round 1 Actuals :: 1:53.4, 1:51.4, 1:51.0, 1:49.8
    Round 2 Actuals :: 1:49.7, 1:49.8, 1:49.7, 1:49.0

  26. m/28y/5’10″/200lbs

    For time:
    Deadlift (225/155#)

    unbroken; muscle endurance breakdown on hspu’s

  27. She
    A. Jerk 160 finially getting technique down for split jerk!
    B. Emom push press 140
    C. Pc 8.8.8 115, 125, 135
    For time 8:58
    Kipping hspu

  28. PC 34/5’4/158 lbs

    Diane- 2:12 Rx

    DL’s: 21 UB, 11/4, 5/4
    HSPU’s: Strict and UB every set

    This is a 2 second PR from the last time we did this wod. This is a total PR of close 44 seconds on this metcon since following the blog. Thanks!! Road to 2 mins!! Need better muscle endurance on really fast TnG large rep sets on DL’s.

  29. Will 10/28/14

    Row 5k @Aer pace
    – every 1k get 2 sec fasted, start EASY pace:
    22:52.2 Start pace 2:20 and ended at 2:12


    A. Push Press + Push Jerk; 2.1 x 5; rest 2 min (build):

    B. Emom 8 min – Jerk x 3 (70% of 1RM):

    C. Wtd. chin up; 2-3 x 5; rest 2 min (all sets tough):
    15# (3), 20#(3), 25#(3), 30# (3), 35# (2)
    For time:
    5 RC
    9 MU (attempts)
    15 OHS (185#) @48kg
    3 RC
    7 MU (jumping to MU)
    15 manmakers (35#) @25#
    1 RC
    5 MU (jumping to MU)

  30. F/73/5’6″/150


    A1 & 2 – 15″ box
    5 pull ups each set, last two sets with band

    Row – pace 3:08
    1st sets: 3:04, 3:05, 3:06, 3:05
    2nd sets: 3:07, 3:05, 3:07, 3:07

  31. SHE
    A. Jerk: 115#
    B. EMOM push press: built from 75-110# in8 sets
    C. PC:8,8,8: 90,100,110#
    HPC/HSPU workout: T= 8:13, used 95#

  32. Being


    Diane – 5:50 RX
    21 DL (11-10)
    21 HSPU (UB)
    15 DL (5-5-5)
    15 HSPU (UB)
    9 DL (5-1-1-1-1)
    9 HSPU (7-2) – failed twice on the 8th HSPU

    Need to work on deadlift form and TNG deadlifts.

  33. For time:
    Deadlift (70kg)
    HSPU (1 abmat)


    Did the reps unbroken but scaled down today as I’m feeling a little tired after yesterday’s workout.

    -Post times and reps schemes

  34. Being
    All dl unbroken
    Toes to walk, to abmat- shoulder normally cringes on hspu head to floor so used mat. Reps 7/14, 8/5, 8/1
    Shoulder felt fine

  35. M/5’10″/210/37yrs

    Being – Diane = 8:04

    HSPU are rough for me. Even kipping all of them it was still a real struggle once I got to the set of 15. Lots of singles…

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